DDRA offers grants for improving facades
Keeping a business looking fresh and inviting encourages customers to come in and shop. The DDRA’s newest program hopes to add some incentives for businesses to maintain and improve their facades.
The Darlington Downtown Revitalization Association (DDRA) Board of Directors recently approved the DDRA Incentive Improvement Program, thanks to a successful Race Week Kick Off Party in August and the support of the community.
“The DDRA is always looking for ways to help improve the economic climate in Darlington,” says Lisa Chalian-Rock, director of the DDRA and City of Darlington planning and economic development director. “The community came out and fully supported our Race Week celebration, which raised the funds we needed to implement this program. A lot of people want to see this type of improvement to our commercial areas.Every business needs to look inviting and needs to have good signage to bring in customers. This program just makes sense.”
The reimbursement program will provide up to 50% of the cost of removing or installing an approved sign or awning up to a maximum of $1,000, or it will provide up to 50% of the cost of exterior painting up to a maximum of $1,000.
“We are a small town, so any incentives we can provide really mean a lot to our businesses,” Rock says. “I look forward to seeing a lot facelifts in town.”
Businesses should work with a sign company or other professional to design a sign, contact the city to ensure it fits the commercial appearance guidelines, and then apply for this incentive through the DDRA. Once an application has been approved, businesses will receive a letter of acceptance and can proceed with the installation. Turn in the paid receipt, and the DDRA will reimburse the approved applicant for 50% of the cost up to $1,000.
For this grant cycle, the DDRA has $5,000 available for the program. Applications should be submitted by the 24th day of the month for consideration with the first deadline being October 24.
What is encouraged
• Replacement of wall-mounted signage with projecting signage.
• Replacement of several advertising signs at one location with a single advertising sign.
• Signs designed by a sign professional.
• Replacement of worn, weathered, discolored, or out-dated signs and awnings.
• Repainting of exterior buildings which show paint chipping.
• Replacement or installation of awnings.
What will not be funded
• Purchase of portable or temporary signs.
• Signs that do not conform to the City’s sign regulations and which have not been approved.
• Signs and painting for businesses without current City of Darlington business licenses.
• Interior painting.
• Interior signage.
How to submit a request
• Consult with a sign professional to design the sign that you would like to install.
• If desired, consult with the City of Darlington Planning Department about whether your sign will meet regulations.
• Complete the Improvement Program application. Submit the forms to Darlington Downtown Revitalization Association Director Lisa Chalian-Rock in person at 410 Pearl St., Darlington, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by mail at P.O. Box 57, Darlington, SC 29540. If you lease the space where your business is located, you must include a letter from the building’s owner stating that he or she consents to the submission of the funding request, and, if funded, approves of the installation of the new sign or awning.
How applications will be scored
• The Board will review applications on a monthly basis until funds allocated for the program are exhausted.
• Preference will be given to DDRA members.
• Preference will be given to local, non-chain businesses.
Upon receiving your request, DDRA will
• Confirm with City staff that the proposed signage and painting complies with City regulations and evaluate the application.
• Determine whether grant funding is available for the application.
• DDRA may deny a sign grant or paint grant application that does not make recommended changes to their sign after initial review. Every effort will be made by the DDRA to work with the applicants so that an incentive can be granted.
• If your funding request is approved, you will be notified of such approval and asked to complete City of Darlington’s Sign/Awning Permit application. You must also receive approval from the City’s Codes Enforcement Office before work may begin.
Please remember that this grant program is a reimbursement program, which means that Darlington Downtown Revitalization Association will not disburse the grant payment to you until you provide proof that the sign company or paint company, as well as any other contractors working on the project, have been paid in full by you. All reimbursement checks will be paid to the applicant listed.